from fish to finances

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Among other looming ecological issues, WaPo wonders if the end of fish is imminent, writing that "there's some evidence that we've already hit 'peak fish':"

World fish production seems to have reached its zenith back in the 1980s, when the global catch was higher than it is today. And, according to one recent study in the journal Science, commercial fish stocks are on pace for total "collapse" by 2048 -- meaning that they'll produce less than 10 percent of their peak catch.

David Atkins calls this example an existential threat to conservatism, and "a reminder of the grand ideological precipice on which conservatism itself rests:"

Economic conservatism rests on the principle that government intervention is largely unnecessary because markets in their grand wisdom correct themselves over time without the need for interference. Economic conservatism is also predicated on the notion that the best way to improve human happiness is to ensure unending economic growth as measured by Gross Domestic Product, regardless of what industries are growing, or whether that growth is sustainable.

Ecological crises like climate change, peak oil and fish depletion present an existential threat to economic conservatism. Self-correcting markets are ill-equipped to handle problems that creep up invisibly but are already too late to solve by the time market consumers truly start to take notice. Once fish or oil become so rare that their prices cause consumers to seek alternatives, the economic and ecological damage will already have been done. The problem will be beyond the point of repair.

"In short," he concludes, "there is no free market solution to these problems:"

Which means that conservatives ultimately must insist that there is no problem in order for their ideology to maintain credibility.

They enable the ultra-rich to continue betraying America by benefitting greatly from US infrastructure but want to avoid, as much as possible, making a contribution. For one example, "almost 1,800 Americans gave up their citizenship to avoid taxes:"

The wealthy benefit disproportionately from property and inheritance laws, contracts, stock exchanges, favorable SEC regulations, the Small Business Administration, patent and copyright and intellectual property laws, estate planning, trust funds, Internet marketing, communications infrastructure, highway maintenance, air traffic control, local and national security, and 60 years of research in technology and other industries.

A major cause of this imbalance is that speculative financial transactions are untaxed:

While average Americans pay a 10% sales tax on necessities, millionaire investors pay just a .00002% SEC fee (2 cents for every thousand dollars) for a financial instrument.

Implementing such a tax (like the proposed Tobin Tax on currency conversion) would help, as would the other main suggestion--to "Eliminate the tax break on unearned income (capital gains)."

Romney's Ampad-destroying deal at Bain Capital is an all-too-typical example of rapacious conservatism, and I'm glad to see that the Obama campaign is hitting this issue hard. They're pointing out that "Romney and his partners were able to squeeze out more than $100 million" from Ampad while laying off workers and saddling the firm with debt that led to bankruptcy:

The GOP's furious denials are full of revisionist bullshit; former Bain managing director Marc Wolpow spilled the beans in a 2002 interview that Romney bears the blame for Ampad:

Romney was responsible for the business plan carried out by Bain in Indiana."Mitt's employees executed that transaction," [Wolpow] said. "We carried out the business plan. He was CEO of the firm."

Romney's statement dodged his culpability:

President Obama confirmed today that he will continue his attacks on the free enterprise system...President Obama refuses to accept moral responsibility for his failed policies.

Oh, and it's so surprising that Teabagger Congresscritters have been bought off by the banks that they once derided. The fifteen GOP freshmen in the House "received significant PAC contributions from the banking industry -- and have become a reliable vote and mouthpiece for the financial industry," most notoriously Rep Joe Walsh (R-IL), who once berated a constituent with this rant:

"Don't blame banks, and don't blame the marketplace for the mess we're in right now! I am tired of hearing that crap!"

Why put the blame where it belongs when they can keep lying about birth certificates, czars, socialism, death panels, and Kenyan anti-colonialists?

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 21, 2012 5:43 PM.

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